UK Employment Law: Transformations in the UK Employment Tribunal System

2024 Changes in UK Employment Law

As we delve further into the year 2024, notable shifts have emerged in the functioning of employment tribunals within the United Kingdom, heralding a fresh chapter in the landscape of legal procedures within workplaces. At Catherine Herries-Smith Solicitors, we recognise the paramount importance of remaining abreast of these developments. Thus, we endeavour to provide a comprehensive examination of the recent evolutions and their prospective ramifications on those engaged with tribunal processes.

Introduction of Audio Recording in Hearings

The capability to record hearings has existed for some time, but only recently has it been systematically implemented. Since November, audio recordings of most remote and numerous in-person hearings have become the norm.

This new approach means parties can access a transcript, albeit at a fee. The recording could also be used by the tribunal during the hearing or for judgment preparation. This development is likely to affect how hearings are conducted, with employment judges possibly taking less comprehensive notes, given the availability of audio recordings. Additionally, the parties’ conduct may be more measured, knowing that their words and tone are recorded.

Reduction in Panel Usage

Recent legislation empowers the President of the Tribunals to direct the composition of employment tribunals. Following the trend of recent years, it’s anticipated that this will lead to fewer panels being used, with a greater number of cases heard solely by an employment judge. This move could streamline the process but might also raise questions about the diversity of perspectives in tribunal decision-making.

Enhanced Use of Digital Platforms

The deployment of the MyHMCTS platform, after successful pilots in four tribunal offices, marks a significant digital shift. This platform, aligning with systems used in other jurisdictions, will enable parties to file documents, make applications, and upload hearing bundles online.

The expansion of MyHMCTS is expected to greatly improve the efficiency of processing claims. However, its success hinges on the Government’s continued investment in its development and rollout.

Potential Reintroduction of Tribunal Fees

The Government has proposed reintroducing fees for employment tribunal claims and appeals, sparking considerable discussion. Unlike the previous regime (abolished in 2017 by the Supreme Court for being unlawful), the new system suggests a flat fee of £55 for most claims, with no additional charges for hearings.

This proposal, explored in a recent consultation, aims for a modest fee structure. However, there are concerns about the administrative load versus the revenue generated. Additionally, with the next general election approaching, the implementation timeline remains uncertain.

These changes collectively signal a shift towards a more streamlined, technologically supported, and potentially cost-involved employment tribunal system. While these adjustments aim to enhance efficiency and access, they also prompt discussions about the balance between cost, accessibility, and the quality of justice delivered.

What Does This Mean for You?

The way employment tribunals work is changing a lot, which means it’s important to understand how things are now. These changes cover several different areas, like how evidence is used, the steps in the process, and what factors judges consider when making decisions.

Even though these changes might seem like they’re just about the rules, they have a big impact on how work disputes are resolved, so everyone involved needs to understand them.

Also, because of new technology, how these tribunals run is getting a major update. This means using digital tools and having hearings online. While this can make things more convenient, it also raises questions about fairness, making sure everyone can still access justice and protecting people’s rights.

So, it’s important to think carefully about how these new methods affect the fairness and effectiveness of the process.

At our firm, Catherine Herries-Smith Solicitors, we don’t just provide legal help – we’re also committed to making sure our clients and everyone else involved understand what’s going on in the legal world. We want to give people the knowledge and support they need to deal with the complexities of legal issues confidently, making sure everyone gets fair treatment and justice.

Overall, the changes happening in employment tribunals signal a big shift in how workplace disputes are handled. It’s crucial for everyone to get to grips with these changes and adapt to the new system.

We’re here to help guide our clients through these changes, making sure their rights are protected and fairness is upheld every step of the way.

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Staying Up to Date with Catherine Herries-Smith Solicitors

As we navigate these evolving landscapes, Catherine Herries-Smith Solicitors remain committed to providing up-to-date advice and representation in employment law matters. Whether you’re an employer or an employee, understanding these changes is crucial for effectively navigating employment disputes. Our team is here to guide you through these changes and ensure that your rights and interests are protected in this new era of employment tribunals.

For comprehensive legal support and to stay informed about the latest developments in employment law, reach out to Catherine Herries-Smith Solicitors. Together, we can navigate the complexities of the employment tribunal system with confidence and expertise.